Home education for many families is not a preferred choice but a last resort amid a breakdown in relationships with schools, Ofsted inspectors have warned.
Research by Ofsted found special needs, problems with a child's behaviour or wellbeing were the most common reasons.
England's schools watchdog says parents need better advice about the cost and responsibilities of home educating and should be made aware of alternatives.
The research was based on seven local authorities in the East Midlands.
'It's so scary'
As part of the research, the watchdog spoke to 16 local authority (LA) representatives for home education, 36 senior leaders in secondary schools, 23 parents and seven children.
"It's scary. It's so scary... knowing that you've got to do it. When you've got no choice because your kids are mentally suffering and you're going down a road you don't want to," one parent said.
"There's no help, not even paper," said another.
"There must be some kind of help because the minute you go down home education, you're on your own and that is hard," a third said.